Bourzat: “When your time is limited, you want to make the best out
Two-time European Champions
and 2012 World bronze medalists Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat of
France entered the final season of their long career.
Q: How did the
preparation for the season go for you?
Fabian: It was quite
relaxed, because we started to build the programs when we were still
with Anjelika (Krylova) and Pasquale (Camerlengo). We started working
on the elements, putting the choreography together, everything that
goes into the building of the program. Once we did that we left for
shows in China. After our return from China we switched coaches and
went to Igor (Shpilband). He accepted the programs the way we
presented them. We changed the coach and had to adapt to his training
methods, so we decided to change the step sequences and we have
improved the lifts and changed certain parts of the choreography.
After that it was hours,hours, hours, hours of training. We have
spent a lot of hours on training the spin, that was one of our weak
points. We worked a lot with Adrienne (Lenda) to do a spin that has a
high level and is short, because to do spins that take a few hours …
we could do that, but it’s less interesting. We have worked also a
lot on the step sequences that we changed with Igor. With the new
steps there were new blocks to master. We did full run-throughs again
Q: What is the difference
between Igor Shpilband and the other coaches you worked with?
Fabian: I find again this
respect that you have towards your coach. We are not friends, but we
aren’t subjects either, so we really have a connection. It’s
really adults talking to each other. Even if we follow everything he
suggests, it is a relationship that is much more mature. He is very
intelligent and strategic. When he saw the programs for the first
time, he evaluated the elements, where they should be placed in
regards to the judges, how they are distributed on the ice so that
not all the elements are on one side. He has really helped us in this
aspect to add the technical touch to get the points to this program
that we had mounted choreographically. I like training with Igor a
lot. It is also an advantage that we don’t have to think about
things all the time. When we need to change something, we tell him
and it’s him who changes it together with us. It is not us looking
for a solution and bringing it in. There is a spiritual liberty that
allows us to come to practice easy-going and focus on what we have to
do. It is for us to focus on the performance and training and not on
things apart from that. Before, when we had to change a lift or
something else, Nathalie and I thought about it for days and tried
new things on the ice and we lost a lot of time, obviously, when you
don’t have a coach who tells you what doesn’t work. That is
difficult. When had to work on the spins – we always worked on the
spins in the way we know it, with our basis – Adrienne came and
told us, I want to see this kind of spin. We said, we can’t do it.
She said, you try and you show me. We tried all kind of spins, in one
direction and in the other, on one foot and on the other, with
different position. We eventually found a compromise. It was the same
for the lifts, we worked with an acrobat. We had a basis and we find
different thing to follow. It is much more interesting and powerful
to work like this. For the choreo lift at the end of the free, we had
kept the salto for the Masters. We were told that this is not a lift,
also we had to find something else. We discussed it. Adrienne said,
you can so something like an artistic lift and we went into that
direction. We improved the lift and changed it with the acrobat. Igor
is very professional, very intelligent, and most of all he know his
Nathalie: It is more strict,
there is more discipline. All our coaches were good, but he is very
focused and strategic. That’s good and that pushes us. He knows
exactly what to do and how to do it.
Q: How did you find “The
Fabian: “The Little
Prince” is an idea that came to us at the Cup of China in Shanghai
last year. We knew we wanted to skate to something like a mix of
“Four Seasons”, “Circus” and “Chaplin”, the programs that
the audience and the judges liked best. We looked for something that
was like this, but at the same time had a relationship between man
and woman. We knew that Cirque du Soleil has been done a lot and we
didn’t want to go to the grotesque characters that had been done
before. So suddenly, the Little Prince came up. One morning I woke up
and thought, we could skate the Little Prince. Plus this is French,
it is international, because it was translated into many languages.
It is a story that suits us well.
Q: How did you like
Fabian’s idea of the “Little Prince”?
Nathalie: It was good. We
had already talked about what we wanted to do and in which direction
we want to go. We didn’t have yet the character or the story we
wanted to tell, but we knew that we wanted to do something
imaginative. We had a lot of fun with it, he told me, you can be the
fox or the snake. But actually there is only one female character,
that is the rose, so it was obvious that I’ll be the rose. I really
liked the idea. This is one of the most beautiful stories in the
world. It is for children and adults and it is very accessible. It’s
nice, because it is a way to deliver a message without needing to
rack your brain.
Q: How did you bring your
idea to life?
Fabian: We knew what we
wanted to do, so we had to talk to the choreographer and we asked
Julien Cotterau who had worked with us on “Circus” and “Chaplin”.
The only advantage of the injury before Europeans last season was
that we had time to meet him at that time, because he was very busy
and to finalize the times that we wanted to spend together to build
the program. Later we had a lot of trouble to find the music. The
musical is a disaster concerning the music. So we said to ourselves
the music or the titles of the music are not important, it is most of
all what it expresses. Like in the season of “Circus” when we
used “Life is Beautiful” for the beginning. We tried to find
music that helped us to think of that. We took excerpts from Cirque
du Soleil that was transformed by Maxime Rodriguez and most of all
the middle part, Jeux Interdits.
Nathalie: Finding the music
was indeed very difficult. There is also a symphony and the musical,
but that’s no music you can skate to. We took a long time to find
the music and we looked everywhere. It was a big part of the work to
find the music and to identify the four parts to fit our story.
Q: Please tell us the
details of your story.
Nathalie: There are four
parts. The first part is the meeting. The Little Prince sees the Rose
and the Rose is a little shy and he tries to be super-attentive, pay
a lot of attention to her. The second part is about friendship,
people that are getting to know each other, who are learning that
they miss each other, play together. The third part is when the
Little Prince decides to leave, because he has the impression that
the Rose doesn’t like him. She doesn’t show it too much. He
decides to leave and she realizes that she was stupid that she didn’t
know how to tell him that she loves him. But he was as stupid as she
was, none of them made a move. Now, it’s the time to leave. She
tries a little bit to hold him back, but he has to leave. This is the
slow part, the sad part, when they have to separate. At the end,
there are two interpretations possible. There is one interpretation,
the Little Prince dies or the other interpretation that he says,
don’t worry, that’s not that. You don’t know if the bite of the
snake kills him or takes him back home. For us, we chose that he
returned home and finds his rose again. We didn’t want to go in the
tragic, dramatic direction, we chose a happy ending and the last part
is their reunion, his return to his planet.
Q: How did you pick your
Fabian: For the short
dance it was more Nathalie and our choreographer Laurie (Ayivigan)
who decided. We knew that we wanted to do something different with
the Finnstep. Nathalie had seen already the Bob Fosse musical and she
liked it a lot. She likes this style, this Cabaret direction. We
never had done something sexy. We wanted to show something much more
mature and adult that you don’t see. You see a lot of ballroom and
a lot of classical, but not much of relationships between man and
woman in skating today. We are older than the others and have the
possibility to express it. This is what was interesting for us. Bob
Fosse is a selection, even if Sing Sing Sing is very well known,
there is a central theme from beginning to end. It’s the story of a
man that enters a Cabaret, who dances with a prostitute and at the
end, with “Mein Herr” is kicked out.
Q: As you said, this is
your last season. How does it feel to enter these competitions,
knowing that it will be the last time?
Fabian: We don’t think
about it when we get to the competitions, because we know that we
have a job to do. At Cup of China, it was not easy, because the
Russians were third at Worlds last year. We knew it is a big
challenge. We don’t think about that this is our last competition.
We first think of what we have to do on the ice, we think about that
we have progressed a lot over the summer, that I am completely
recovered from the injury and that we are back at the level that we
were at the beginning of last season, that the work with the new
coach is going well, about how the new choreography is received. It
is only at the end of the competition that we realized that it was
the last one. It is our third Cup of China with three different
coaches and three victories. This is a competition that we especially
Nathalie: It is a special
feeling, but more in the daily training. We know that we are training
for the Olympic Games. It is good, it is motivating, because when you
know that your time is limited, you want to make the best out of it.
Even when we built our programs, we knew that in a certain time we
won’t have the opportunity to be on the podium and listen to the
Marseillaise. So we try to take the best out of it. That’s the
Q: What do you think
about your chances for Sochi?
Fabian: I think we made a
good point in China, in spite of the low levels in the Finnstep. Our
program was appreciated and we had good energy. There is still a lot
of work left to do, obviously. We know that the battle with the
Russians will be very, very hard in Sotchi.
Q: There are also the
Italians and the second Canadians…
Fabian: I don’t think so.
Our main competitions are the Russians, not from the level of
skating, but politically. We have to accept the rules of the game.
We’ll do everything to be at a 100 percent. We proved at the
Europeans in Sheffield (in 2012) and at the Cup of China that even
after a somewhat chaotic start, we are still there. Our strong point
is the free dance and this is where we get the points. We have all
chances. Even if we are not in third in the short dance at the Games,
we know how to fight to rally back.
Q: What do you think when
you hear the word Sochi?
Nathalie: I can’t wait to
be there. I would like to get a nice medal and enjoy it. I want to
give a good performance and finish on a high note and positive, to be
happy with what we have done. I don’t have a doubt that it will be
great like all Games, especially since the Russians are super proud
and will do everything to make it perfect.
Q: What are your memories
Nathalie: I remember that it
was quite warm in December. There was no snow, there was the sea.
This is a bit surprising for Winter Games, but it is even better. I
remember that I really liked that area with all the stadiums. Even
though it wasn’t ready you realized that all the disciplines will
be together. Usually you have to travel a lot, here you have the
whole cluster with the ice rink, the practice rink, speed skating
oval, curling. All the ice disciplines are in the same place, that is
Q: What are your plans
Fabian: After Sochi we do
the tour with Art on Ice and for sure a tour with the French team in
April. I’d like to go to Worlds in Japan but as a team leader. I
will ask the Federation. We won’t do Worlds. Nathalie and I decided
that. The training is getting harder physically. Mentally, we are
focusing on the Games. When we have a medal to go after a silver
medal at Worlds is not so interesting. The medal at the Games is what
is really important. It would be hard to motivate ourselves after
that, there will be a lot of euphoria. And if we don’t get a medal
at the Olympic Games we probably won’t have the motivation to
continue. No, we won’t go to Worlds. Afterwards we’ll do shows if
we get offers. And then… I think I’ll coach. I want to coach. We
have good French couples that could do nice things in the coming
years. I don’t know yet if I go back to France, though. I like the
quality of life in the USA. I will see who offers me to work with
him, Igor (Shpilband), Barbara (Fusar Poli), Sasha (Zhulin).
Nathalie: We’ll do shows,
but not for such a long time, I think, maybe one or two years. It is
nice to have fun on the ice, but we have to think about other things.
We won’t do shows for ten years. I’d like to find my life, return
to France, to Paris, find a job. Maybe I’ll become a (technical)
specialist to stay connected to skating. I am still hesitating. I’d
like to stay in touch with skating, but maybe not right away after
the career. It is after all a difficult scene and I’ve been into it
for 20 years. But then I tell myself, that it is necessary that
athletes who retired from the sport are getting into these positions
in order to develop things. On the other hand I think that’s a bit
naïve, because there are always the same people around.
Q: What kind of job would
you like to do?
Nathalie: I have to finish
my studies, I still need to write the thesis, then I’m finished. I
could work for the French Olympic Committee, that could be nice or
for a company that is involved in sport events such as Roland Garros.
Thank you verxy much for the interview and good luck!